Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Internet: A Wonder of the World?

The Web Redefines Reality: I don't know what it is--I'm a big fan of the Web--but whenever I read an article like this one, which proclaims the Internet as one of the wonders of the world, I find myself getting skeptical. It's not that I don't think the Internet hasn't changed our society, our culture, and our sense of the world.

But I suppose I've been behind the scenes too long to be amazed at "the man behind the curtain." Take part in the creation, usability testing, and maintenance of enough websites, it's hard to be in awe of "hyperlinks, routers and fiber-optic cables" that are in constant need of updating and may crash at any time.

And as an academic, it's hard to read a phrase like "It has taken giant steps toward accomplishing one of the goals of the ancients: gathering all the knowledge in the world in one place" without thinking about the huge amount of critical thinking that must be done to discriminate which parts of it are trustworthy.

Yes, the Internet is changing our lives in profound ways. But for one thing, only some of these ways are good. And for another, some of the changes are only faux-changes. Sure the Internet might show us "the interconnectivity of things," but people have been connecting things for a long time. Perhaps, looking at history, I'm not convinced that "the enlightenment of the modern world" will stand up to the test of time. And there are down sides to too much explicit "interconnectivity of things" as well: Information overload. The possibility of increased dependence on connections being made for us instead of finding them for ourselves.

So yeah, I see the point: the Internet is pretty cool. But all earthbound "wonders" have their limitations. As does the rhetoric praising the things deemed to be wonders.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

So now you really do need to read "The heart is an involuntary muscle" I just brought it back to the library, it should be there waiting for you to check it out. (the author is monique proulx)